Five before Midnight

This site is dedicated to the continuous oversight of the Riverside(CA)Police Department, which was formerly overseen by the state attorney general. This blog will hopefully play that role being free of City Hall's micromanagement.
"The horror of that moment," the King went on, "I shall never, never forget." "You will though," the Queen said, "if you don't make a memorandum of it." --Lewis Carroll


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Location: RiverCity, Inland Empire

Monday, February 09, 2009

Bring on the wrecking ball: The Board of Library Trustees votes

It rained in Southern California today. After a dry as dust January, the rain season picked up a bit in February.

People are still talking about the Governmental Affairs Committee meeting which took place at Riverside's City Hall almost one week ago. The one where the fate of the investigative protocol of the Community Police Review Commission was to have been decided. But the best laid plans of mice and men and all that, it didn't quite happen that way.

The commission which had been allowed to determine through policy and practice its own policies, procedures and bylaws since 2001 had encountered the first action taken by City Hall to impact this process and to remove it from its purview. All while being told that this change in a long-standing precedent was the "norm" and any attempts to question it were due to "miscommunication" and were generating some sort of "controversy". It's not clear what the controversy actually is, in this case that they say is being generated by the public. City Hall decided to interrupt seven years of pattern and practice involving the CPRC's implementation of Charter Section 810(d) and people questioned it, which perhaps is what the Governmental Affairs Committee and its Chair Frank Schiavone view as the controversy. Because disagreeing with the actions of a direct employee of the city council is of course, controversial.

Some of the criticisms have been that the commission has prevented the police detectives who work on the officer-involved death investigations from doing their job and to let them do their job. But these police investigations have taken place without interruption during the eight years that the CPRC has been in existence. These investigations including this one generate hundreds of pages of work product by police detectives and other personnel. While the police department is doing its work, the CPRC's investigator generated this work product. In fact, 11 investigations were done without preventing either police detectives or CPRC investigators from doing their own work.

The only incident which threatened to halt a criminal investigation of an officer-involved death took place in 2003 during the fatal officer-involved shooting of Volne Lamont Stokes. While detectives were interviewing the officers involved in that case, one of the involved officers decided not to give a voluntary statement to the criminal investigators in a particular interrogation room. Soon after, the Internal Affairs Division compelled this officer to be interviewed at its offices. However, since that statement was received by a division doing an administrative process, the officer's statement was never provided to the criminal investigators. This and other similar issues with the department's own handling of its parallel investigative processes led to civil litigation being filed against the city by the Riverside Police Officers' Association which settled in 2005.

Both embedded links are from case material generated by the CPRC and the police department for the October 2006 fatal shooting of Joseph Darnell Hill.

The detectives don't themselves "review" investigations which in order to be effective have to be done by someone outside of the investigating team. They conduct their investigations under the supervision of the sergeant who is assigned to the Officer-Involved Death Team who is under the supervision of a lieutenant working for the Central Investigations Bureau in the department. While and after the detectives conduct their own investigation, the work product is reviewed by the chain of command. If those reviewing the investigative material determine that any aspect of it needs further examination or work, then that recommendation is sent back down to the investigators. The detectives investigating the case also draft narratives of incidents based on the interviews of officers, witnesses and any available evidence which is also reviewed.

Most documents that fall under these categories are evidenced in the police department's case books for the officer-involved death.

The Internal Affairs is mandated under departmental policy 4.8 to do its own independent and separate investigation but for the most part, its actions consist of performing administrative reviews although they may or may not create their own investigative work product. And if they do or they don't, is confidential so most people don't know. The only signs that their protocol is more about review than investigation comes from recommendations submitted by the CPRC in some of its public reports that have addressed this issue beginning with the November 2002 officer-involved death case of Anastacio Munoz.

The Brad Hudson Protocol was that brought forth by Hudson, Asst. City Manager Tom DeSantis using work product created by CPRC Manager Kevin Rogan.

Riverside Coalition for Police Accountability rebuttal report

The Board of Library Trustees has voted to support Hudson's proposal to tear down the downtown library and build a new one.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

"This building can come down," board member Nancy Melendez said. "I think it's seen its day."

The vote, held during a meeting inside the Main Library, was a recommendation to the City Council. About 15 members of the public attended the meeting.

The library board also asked for development of a financing plan that would include an attempt to secure private donations as well as a bond measure and parcel tax requiring voter support.

The existing library shouldn't be torn down until the money is in place for construction, and an interim location for the library should be found so it can keep operating during construction, the board's recommendation said.

Doug Shackleton, a representative of the Raincross Group, a circle of about 35 civic leaders, made similar recommendations to the board and Judith Auth and Dawn Hassett of the Committee to Renew the Library gave their support. Both groups have played an active role in discussing the library's future

"We're quite excited about the prospects of a new building," Auth said.

Let's hope when the construction is set to take place in 2012 that the city still places a high priority on the project and it doesn't fall by the wayside as some fear.

Ever since City Hall laid off former Riverside Police Department Public Information Officer Steve Frasher, his position as adjutant has been filled by Sgt. Jaybee Brennen who is also assigned to the department's audit and compliance bureau.

She attended the Governmental Affairs Committee meeting last week with Chief Russ Leach. The audit and compliance panel had been assigned the task of doing an audit to determine why the department has a much poorer retention rate for its female officers than for its male ones. The Human Resources Board had expressed interest in hearing a presentation from the police department on this issue and had submitted a request for more information on this issue from the Human Resources Department, but that department's director, Rhonda Strout, reported back that City Attorney Greg Priamos had denied this request. It's not clear whether even the most basic statistical information is off limits.

Priamos of course has to address civil law suits filed against the city by its employees including one female probational officer, Kelsy Metzler, who filed a defamation lawsuit against the police department after being fired in 2005. Her firing took place on the first day of her field training assignment and came not long after she had filed a sexual harassment complaint against another male officer during the training academy. She alleged that two male officers in the police department told her after she filed her complaint that the department was unhappy with her about it.

The department hired a group of female officers last winter and spring and according to it, all but two (who dropped out at the academy stage) passed the field training program. It remains to be seen how long they'll last in a department which once lost nine women it hired in about six weeks according to Leach.

Oops! An audit of the Riverside County Sheriff's Training Academy revealed that over $500,000 in fees hasn't been paid.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

The Sheriff's Department flouted requirements that county supervisors approve all fee exemptions to outside law enforcement agencies using the center's classrooms, office space and firing range, according to the audit. It also found that the department could not locate training center assets worth more than $50,000, although the sheriff's office says they were aging and obsolete electronic items.

Undersheriff Valerie Hill said the oversights identified in the audit occurred under former Sheriff Bob Doyle, Sheriff Stanley Sniff's predecessor. Doyle disputes that, saying Sniff is blaming him for practices that continued under Sniff's administration.

Hill said Sniff has tightened accounting practices and brought in new leadership at Ben Clark center since the audit, which wrapped up shortly after he took over as sheriff. Sniff also changed the exemption policy so that the Sheriff's Department and the partner agencies that run the center can grant exemptions without supervisor approval, Hill said.

But Supervisor Bob Buster said changing the rules is not an acceptable solution and stricter limitations are needed for granting fee exemptions at Ben Clark. Buster recommended in a memo Monday to supervisors that they require the center's management to get permission from the county executive office to waive fees at Ben Clark.

Now there's never a dull moment in the political scene at Colton's city hall what with mayors being recalled and assorted controversies involving communicados in the building. But did the powers that be at City Hall there edit the video recording of a city council meeting?

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Grossich brought up the missing comments at the Feb. 3 meeting, claiming his First Amendment rights had been violated, and was told by City Attorney Dean Derleth that the city would investigate. The city broadcast the Jan. 20 meeting two more times with Grossich's comments included.

"It happened to me when I made comments very critical to the city's financial situation," Grossich said. "I don't know if was a coincidence but it would be an awful big coincidence."

Derleth said the investigation showed that no one in the city had accessed the digital copy, but confirmed that the tape had been impacted in some way. It likely was a computer problem, he said.

"I want to make it abundantly clear that we serve the City Council and we are unbiased," said Derleth, an attorney at Best, Best and Krieger in Riverside. "I do not believe we are conflicted in looking into this matter."

The Los Angeles Police Department is trying to expedite the testing of its huge backlog of rape kits.

(excerpt, Los Angeles Times)

The LAPD's disclosures Monday follow those of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, which announced late last month that it has more than 800 such cases -- far more than had been anticipated. Like the Sheriff's Department, the LAPD plans to test its entire backlog of evidence and has changed old protocols that required detectives to formally request DNA analysis in each case.The agencies have scrambled to conduct the tallies and devise financially feasible plans to eliminate their backlogs after intense scrutiny by Human Rights Watch and other advocacy groups.

The LAPD and Sheriff's Department are increasing the number of in-house lab analysts to handle the constant influx of new cases, while also plotting out ways to outsource the backlogged cases to private labs. Each kit of evidence costs about $1,000 to process.

The LAPD has significantly increased the rate at which it sends out backlogged kits for testing, from an average of 115 each month last year to nearly 500 in January, Beck said. If current funding rates hold steady, the backlog could be cleared by the summer of 2010, he added. At the same time, the department is hoping the city provides enough money to hire 26 DNA experts needed for the crime lab to be able to stay on top of new cases.

"It's great that they're now taking steps to address the problem to get a real idea of the scope of it," said Gail Abarbanel, director of the Rape Treatment Center at the Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center. "At the end of the day, the only way to get justice for victims and to protect the public is to open every one of those kits. Each one that has gone unopened represents a victim that has had no resolution. Every unopened kit could identify an repeat offender who is out on the street."

An officer in Florida resigns over allegations that he was a member of the Ku Klux Klan.


James Elkins was off and on with the police department for nearly five years. In the pictures, Elkins was dressed in green and white with an old KKK uniform and a hand on his gun.

"Yes I am an ex-Klansman and I'm done," Elkins told Eyewitness News.

Elkins resigned two weeks ago after allegations that he was handing out KKK literature, which has recently surfaced in Brevard, Sumter and Lake counties.

"It took a long time to realize what was going on was wrong. I regret everything about that life. I wish I had never gotten involved," he said.

"Why not fire him on the spot?" WFTV reporter Kenneth Moton asked.

"Because the police bill of rights and I have to do an Internal Affairs investigation because it's an accusation," Fruitland Park Police Chief Mark Isom said.

Law enforcement agencies from coast to coast are forced to cut their budgets in the wake of the recession.

(The Washington Post)

The nation's economic trouble has hit state and local law enforcement, with two out of three large departments reporting budget cuts or hiring freezes. And at the same time, leaders at more than a quarter of the 233 departments that responded to a survey by the Police Executive Research Forum say they are noticing an uptick in property crime that they blame, at least in part, to economic unrest.

Local police departments already have been grappling with tighter budgets in recent years as the federal government has shifted funding from law enforcement to homeland security.

As Congress has debated a huge economic stimulus bill this year, Democratic lawmakers have pushed for it to include $2.64 billion in crime-fighting grants and more than $1 billion in funds to hire 50,000 police officers. But such federal money typically comes with a requirement that localities match 25 percent of the total with funds from other sources. Police groups are lobbying the Obama administration to relax that policy.

If police departments receive the stimulus funding, it could still take them 18 months or longer to advertise for recruits, weed through applications and put the probationary employees through training before they ever appear on the beat, experts said.

Personnel is by far the single biggest expense for police forces, experts say, and many of the recent trims have meant cutting staff. The effects have included restrictions on overtime and delayed recruiting efforts. In some cases, departments have urged victims to report some crimes online or make a trip to the police department rather than call officers to their homes.

Meetings in Riverside:

Metropolitan Museum Board: Tuesday, Feb. 10 at 4 p.m. at the Metropolian Museum Conference room

City Council: Tuesday, Feb. 10 at:

2:30 p.m.: Board of Public Utilities interviews and selections

3:00 p.m.: Afternoon session

Major agenda item: Chinatown

5:30 p.m.: Evening session

Community Police Review Commission: Wednesday, Feb. 11 at 5:30 p.m.. This meeting includes taser training for the commissioners.

Friday Morning Club: Feb. 13 at 10 a.m. Former CPRC Chair Bill Howe speaking at the Janet Goeske Senior/Disabled Center, located at 5257 Sierra Street, at Streeter Avenue in Riverside

Inland Empire Weekly ran this feature on Ken Stansbury who was instrumental on the campaign to put a ballot initiative on Eminent Domain for the voters in Riverside to decide on the practice within this city. The city decided that however, was illegal and they SLAPPed him and other people who had organized the effort.

He's also an artist and currently is working on murals for buildings in the city. He also was a recipient of an award at a recent city council meeting.

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